Relief Painting, Lasting Beauty is All About the Little Details.

by Marianne Freeman February 26, 2022

Relief Painting, Lasting Beauty is All About the Little Details.

Traversing throughout Mexico over the past 22 years has been less a diversion for wanderlust and more of a peregrination into artisan culture. Thoughtfully foraging for artisans who are skilled, creative, amiable, and patient enough to work with our ideas for what we feel will be well received by you, our customer.
Today, we coordinate and design with 9 different artisans studios in 3 other states in central Mexico. The artistry found in each of these studios has been developed within the family and extended family and passed along through generations.
It's not been a short, simple, or easy process, and most often, the phrase "labor of love" is the most fitting description, but the rewards are worth every moment we have spent. Sometimes new creations arrive from a customer's special request. Ocasionally they arise from our imaginations, inspired by what we see a need for in our marketplace. And most often, they are a new creation that we see as soon as we enter the artisan's studio or workshop in central Mexico, which brings us to the featured products in this blog.

Artisan's dotting, painting, bringing color and imagery to the ceramic surfaces.

Artisans painting ceramic from Mexico

01. As mariachi music plays in the background artisan painter Marabella dots out the detailed pattern on this Porta Cuchara to the beat of the music using a needle-tipped dripper. | 02. Ramona Torres Tapía paints in the pattern with her traditional Talavera brush. | 03. Artisan painter Lupíta fills in the channels of the Tuscan Shield tile before they are transferred into the kiln. During a regular production day, individual artisans will be surrounded by up to 50 paint dippers, all carrying various color palettes. This is color by number, on steroids!

Each Porta Cuchara or Spoon Rest is molded from a very dense and durable ceramic known as stoneware. The perfect natural clay composition, stoneware is known for handling high heat. The non-toxic natural clay, steadfast weight, and long-lasting durability are just a few of the qualities you would expect from a quality kitchen tool. The thoughtful wide concave shape of these Porta Cucharas will hold a range of spatulas, whisks, tongs, and other baking/cooking utensils. The stoneware spoon rests are twice-baked in a high-fire kiln at temperatures reaching 1700˚F. This first bake transforms raw clay down to a molecular level; the high heat and curing process forces out tiny air pockets condensing the material so that it is literally as hard as a rock, hence the name "stoneware." The baked stoneware has a beautiful natural vanilla color with a soft matte finish that is easy to clean.

Fire up the kilns! The next step of this intricate process is about to begin.
Stoneware and glazed ceramic from Mexico

01. Focus is a requirement. Artisan apprentice Marísol is tasked with the important role of assorting the levels of raw clay vessels before they are rolled into our giant kilns. This process requires trained concentration as every piece has to be organized in and face a particular direction. If any raw piece were to be placed improperly it could potentially ruin the entire burn.  | 02. Colibrí Spoon Rest arranged for curing before they are returned to the kiln for their final bake. | 03. Levels of finished ceramic vessels immediately after the final bake. The kiln in our ceramic studio is the size of a small office where levels of ceramic can be stacked up to 9'ft high

The beautiful artwork patterns are applied by skilled hands a process that ensures both patterns and artwork on each piece are never exactly the same. This innovative artisan technique is called "relíeve" meaning "relief", the technique requires skilled artisans to apply layers of natural lead free paint by hand to the surface of each Porta Cuchara / spoon rest. During the 2nd bake this relief painting technique literally raises the painted pattern providing a glossy texture just to the painted areas, a beautiful contrast to the surface of the stoneware.

We have thoroughly enjoyed our relationship with this family of artisans and to be able to share in their growth and creativity with the anticipation of new and functional additions to the Tierra Collection.

 After heat from the kiln cools. what was once raw & muted is now refined & vibrant.
Stoneware and glazed ceramic kitchenware from Zenwaro

01. A recent private label project for a client required us to ship a batch of samples of our Stoneware ceramic vessels to Shenzhen China for lab testing. These high-level sensory tests confirmed the purity and non-toxicity of our ceramic-ware | 02. The Victorian Shield, captivating from every angle. All of our coasters and trivets are fitted with cork padding on the bottom of every tile.





Marianne Freeman
Marianne Freeman

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